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1967 – now 50 years ago.Those old enough will have different memories of that year.The ‘Six Day War’, the first heart transplant, Torrey Canyon disaster, the death of Donald Campbell in Bluebird, whilst the Ford Anglia is discontinued and replaced by the Escort, hmmmm…….

In the world of sport and entertainment, the Grand National is famously won by 100/1 outsider Foinavon, Celtic become the first British football team to win the European Cup.“Bonnie & Clyde” and “The Graduate” at the cinema and the first UK colour TV transmissions. Music gave us Radio One,“Sgt. Pepper’s”,“A Whiter Shade of Pale” and…………… “Waterloo Sunset”.

Belatedly given a knighthood in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list, Ray Davies’ haunting and evocative song by the Kinks has been described by some critics as the most beautiful pop song ever written, and Pete Townsend of The Who calls it “Divine” and “a Masterpiece”.Whilst Ray’s inspiration for the words lay elsewhere, there is a wonderful irony in the fact that at the time the song was riding high in the charts, another sunset was occurring at Waterloo Station – the end of steam trains in London.

By 1967, nearly all the railway lines south of the Thames had been electrified, but the route from Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth, plus the line to Salisbury, still saw steam- hauled express and stopping trains on a daily basis.These lines were the stamping ground of famous named trains “The Royal Wessex”,“The Atlantic Coast Express” and the prestigious all- Pullman “Bournemouth Belle”, and even in the last weeks of steam, trains hauled by the famous ‘Merchant Navy’ class locomotives (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SR_Merchant_Navy_class) were reaching speeds of over 100 mph in a ‘last hurrah’ before the curtain finally came down on 9th July 1967.

Steam continued in a minor role on British Railways for another 13 months in parts of North West England, but the routes into Waterloo truly were home to the very last express passenger steam trains in the UK.

Whilst a number of steam locomotives associated with London and the south of England have survived into preservation, there is only one – 35028 “Clan Line” – that was active from & to Waterloo right up to the final week of steam that is still operational in 2017.The locomotive was built in 1948, was purchased direct from B.R. by the fledgling Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society in August 1967, and the all-volunteer MNLPS still own and maintain the locomotive to this day. The fourth major overhaul in private ownership has just been completed, and “Clan Line” has returned to its home depot at Stewarts Lane, Battersea in south London ready to continue with what it was originally built for – hauling passenger trains at speed on the main lines of southern England.

So this summer “Clan Line” will be returning to Waterloo to haul three public trips, specially arranged to commemorate the golden anniversary of the end of steam trains in London, these being:

Wednesday 5th July:“The Bournemouth Belle”,Waterloo to Bournemouth & return
Sunday 9th July:“The Waterloo Sunset”,Waterloo to Sherborne/Yeovil & return
Saturday 23rd Sept:“The Atlantic Coast Express”,Waterloo to Exeter & return

Anyone can book to travel on these trains; full details are available from
UK Railtours

For further details regarding this press release please contact Paul Blowfield, MNLPS Marketing & Communications Officer:

paul.milepost31@yahoo.co.uk Tel 07540 259065

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